Dentists play a vital role in the fight against oral cancer

oral cancer

The Government has acknowledged the role dentists can play in the fight against oral cancer

The Government and health ministers have acknowledged the vital role dentists play in detecting oral cancer.

In Thursday’s Westminster Hall debate on tobacco control strategy, ministers acknowledged that dentists should be part of a joined-up approach to tackling the rising number of oral cancer cases.

‘The spike in oral cancer cases shows precisely why we need real joined-up thinking across our health service,’ Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said.

‘We are seeing a preventable disease on the rise, a killer that has a 90% survival rate – but only if it’s spotted early.

‘We’ve told MPs that dentists are uniquely placed to help turn the tide on oral cancer.

‘When it comes to prevention and diagnosis we welcome acknowledgement – from both government and opposition – that our profession needs to be part of the emerging strategy.’

In the debate Jane Ellison, the Public Health Minister, said: ‘We received welcome information today from the British Dental Association setting out how dentists can help with smoking reduction and the identification of oral cancer.

‘We will consider that further as we develop the [new tobacco control] strategy.

‘That is welcome and timely news.’


  1. 1

    This is music to my ears! My husband And I detected a significant rise in our oral cancer referral rates back in 2007. Since then we taught the whole team to play their role in the oral cancer screening process. Not only do the dentists administer a thorough 50:50 intra:extra-oral screening (with the dental nurses leading the systematic screening) but the reception team are taught to triage and look out for warning signs in patients, dental nurses are given the skills to teach patients self- screening and everyone has been trained to talk to patients sensitively about this growing hidden killer. I now visit dental practices across the UK delivering the same vital training. It is key to tackling this hidden killer and raising public awareness. Bring on a Government initiative!!!!

  2. 2

    We need a National Oral Cancer Screening Programme based in Primary Dental Care and run by Dental Surgeons. I would like to see precancer/cancer screening as for Ca Cervix and would suggest illuminescence technology such as VelScope System be included in the oral examination of adults.

    The notion that early detection is associated with 90%:survival is probably true, but as yet unproven.

  3. 3

    Early detection of this condition is the best way to have it treated. If left unattended oral cancer can cause major problems that one can ever imagine. And all of this because one forget the most simple rules in oral hygiene, namely, good oral habit; brushing and flossing included of course, eating right and regular visits to the dentist.

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